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Shelf Life: Expectations for 2018

by Cheryl Hunter (shelflife at This year, everything is about personalisation, integration and technology… not necessarily in that order. The 2018 consumer expects it all.

1. Artificial intelligence

While many local retailers and marketers are still talking “digital” vs “traditional”, others are ahead of the pack and have already embraced AI to enhance customer relationships and experiences.

The phenomenal potential of AI and its primary tool — image recognition — has experts positing that by 2020 (a mere 24 months away), 80% of consumer interactions will take place without human involvement. As the uptake of this technology increases, it offers creative teams extraordinary opportunities to break new boundaries; fortunately, we still need human ideas.

2. Augmented reality

Although there was much talk of virtual reality in 2017, this seems to have been overtaken by Augmented Reality (AR). This is rapidly becoming more and more mainstream, with some software now built into smartphones and more marketers understanding the vast potential for immediately integrating this into existing campaigns.

3. Content marketing

Content remains a vital component of all new technology, as well as more traditional Marketing mechanisms, forming part of all communications from social to website.

It, too, is being influenced by technology, however, as AI makes it possible to decide what content to deliver, in which conversations, and to whom, at what time, forcing content creators to be ever-more imaginative in their delivery.

As an aside, influencer marketing — the buzzword of many years — has grown rapidly, but has brought with it credibility issues and an overcrowded, uncertain space. The challenge now is for brands to demand higher standards and consumers more transparency.

4. Social media

2018 will likely see the fall of Twitter, the continued rise of LinkedIn, and the rise and rise of Instagram. This is a trend already established during 2017, with 800m users now on Instagram and Instagram Stories overtaking Snapchat in less than 12 months from launch.

Brands are currently seeing better engagement on Instagram than any other social media platform.

5. Integration and collaboration

All of this means integration is an imperative. Industry players will increasingly need to partner with one another as the distinctions between marketing, creative agencies, designers and content creators rapidly become less distinct.

A content strategy, focused on user experience across the full range of marketing communications channels, requires all players to commit to truly integrated teamwork and collaboration.

Cheryl HunterShelf Life is’s weekly column covering all things new. Notify us of yours at shelflife at marklives dot com. Want to sponsor Shelf Life? Contact us here.

Cheryl Hunter (@cherylhunter) has written for the South African media, marketing and advertising industries for more than 15 years. A former editor of M&M in Independent Newspapers and contributor to Bizcommunity, AdFocus, AdReview and the Ad Annual, she has also produced for various television networks and currently consults on communication strategy and media liaison.

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Shelf Life: Expectations for 2018


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